Let’s start by talking about how much I hate the term “social media.” I’m sick of it. I hate it the way I hate Milwaukee’s Best Ice. It’s gross and it turns my stomach. But, just like that potent and disgusting beer, it packs a wicked punch.
Now let me tell you why.
Some of you are wondering who the hell I am and why I’m writing for HorrorTree. Simple answer is social media. If you don’t follow HorrorTree (same goes for the tons of magazines/small presses out there) on Twitter or don’t like them on Facebook and you want to be a horror/dark fantasy/science fiction writer, you are psychotic. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. All it takes is a couple quick clicks and you’re automatically deluged with information. You’ll be in the loop. Take a second, if you haven’t, and go take care of that. I’ll wait.
You better be.
Ok, let’s continue. I’ll tell you why I’m writing for HorrorTree. HorrorTree’s Facebook page asked for writers interested in contributing to an ongoing column for the site on writing and horror. I answered the call and here I am. I’m ecstatic that I have this opportunity and I earned this opportunity by paying attention to social media (and writing a killer intro blog that you should read if you haven’t yet) and I could not be more thankful.
Almost every day, HorrorTree’s FB and Twitter pages talk about new open markets and this info is so valuable. They also request things from time to time. They asked for a columnist, and they got me. I’m thrilled, I hope you are too. They have also been asking for quotes from writers who have used HorrorTree to get published, and several authors have submitted quotes. If you are one of those, thank you! If you haven’t yet submitted a quote, please do so. It’s a great way to not only get your name seen in another venue, but also to thank HorrorTree for the FREE and EXCEPTIONAL service it provides. And if you’re reading this, you’ve used HorrorTree. Pay it forward!
So much of playing the social media game is backscratching, and I mean this in the best way possible. From my experience, most writers will help you and gladly accept help from you. Be the one that starts it and people won’t forget.
Writing and getting published in 2013 is wild west and cutthroat enough the way it is. Don’t be a parasite.
Two things happened to me two weeks ago. Both because of Facebook. The first one led to me being here. The second is going to jumpstart my writing career in ways that I knew would eventually happen, but now, they are going to happen in the coming months.
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a whore, but I kind of am. Almost every time I submit a story that gets accepted, I take an iphone screen picture of the email and post it on Facebook. (I generally keep the publisher name out of it) Sometimes I get a lot of likes and comments, and sometimes I get nothing. Either way, I’m putting myself out there. I even post rejections if I think they are relevant and funny. I’ll talk about rejection in a future blog, but the reigning champ is, (publisher name withheld) “the story of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, retold with cannibalism. This is way out there.” That rejection is one of my proudest writer moments, and I put it on Facebook because I thought it was hysterical. And it is, my FB friends thought so too.
Rarely, I’ll post first drafts of stories. When I post first drafts it always says “STORY WILL BE TAKEN DOWN IN 8-12 HOURS” and then I take it down. I think that leads to a sense of urgency among people who want to read me and help me out. I’m not sure if that’s legal, so I do it sparingly, but I’ve gotten some excellent feedback. The note will say “this is due in a few days or I just finished this and I’m curious on your feedback. Don’t tell me what should happen, because I’m not posting this to steal ideas. What are the hiccups, inconsistencies, etc. Where are the major grammar/continuity mistakes, and is the pace fast enough.”
My stories usually change quite a bit between first draft and finished product and I think briefly posting serves two points. First the readers get to see the story evolve and change, and that can be a very cool thing to see. Second it includes them in my work. I love when writers write forewords or story notes in their books. I think it develops a strong bond between writer and reader and by using social media, I’m trying to evolve that concept to fit the information age. And as a thank you to those that read, when a book I’m part of comes out, I’ll buy a couple digital copies and post a Kindle code or two as a status. 2 free digital copies to whoever can snatch them up the fastest.
What I’ve noticed is that several people might read, but only a few will comment. Or none. Sometimes I get phone calls or text messages in lieu of FB comments. This is a good sign. Anyone willing to take that kind of time believes in you and wants to help you. Take what they say seriously, but weight it against what you are trying to achieve with the story.
Feedback is also fodder for a future blog.
Anyway, my occasional posting of stories and my posting of acceptance/rejection letters led to something that I had never even considered.
Are you listening? Because this could, I hope it does, happen to you.
An old friend contacted me. A friend that I hadn’t seen or really even talked to in three or four years. He read my posts. He read my stories. He watched me actively chase my dream. He saw my success. He recognized my dream, and he maybe even saw some talent. And he wanted to help me out.
He said he believed in me.
Just because you don’t get likes or comments, doesn’t mean people aren’t reading. They are. Active, passive or vicarious; think about the potential response of people on your social network. Think about all the statuses or links that you laugh at or click on that you don’t acknowledge with a like or comment.
Is it a lot?
You never know. People worry about stalkers and creepers robbing their houses when they post about being on vacation.
Shift your paradigm. Don’t be stupid, but think about and more importantly, EMBRACE the potential that you have. Not everyone wants to help you, maybe just a small percentage, but you do have friends, even some you don’t see or talk to or maybe have never even met in person, that want to see you succeed.
Some won’t though, the envious and those fearful of chasing their own passions will see you as annoying. And they are dicks. Spread your success! It will motivate some, I promise. I’ve had more than one person tell me that my posts have started them writing again. That’s a good feeling.
But, with that said, either through jealousy or annoyance you will lose friends on FB and followers on Twitter. Fuck ‘em. I’ve lost some and I care about as much as I like the taste of Milwaukee’s Best Ice. The people that stick around may be beneficial even if they are silent. And a lot more might be paying attention to your posts than you think. You truly never know.
Back to my friend. He’s a web designer. He’s a reader, and he wanted to help me out. I’m now talking to him almost daily, we bounce ideas around. We’ve got some great ones. He’s introduced me to WordPress. I had no idea web design could be so easy (assuming you have support to do the heavy lifting). We’re hoping to launch a website that will rock the horror fiction world in the coming months.
Our infant ideas are coming to life, and I can’t wait to see the result. It all came around because I wasn’t silent. I didn’t care about being annoying on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, moderation is crucial, but posts about success and what you’re doing is most likely what you’re going to say anyway, so post it. Not to mention when most people post pics of their dogs, children, and lunches ad nauseum, you owe it to cyberspace to add a little variety. You never know who’ll take some interest.
Hopefully it isn’t the chainsaw toting behemoth wearing a dead skin mask. Instead it’s the guy who wants to help you out, and in my experience, even though it may take some time, it will always be the latter.
Maybe there’s a publisher reading this right now saying, “I found Kerry G.S. Lipp via social media and I want that motherfucker to write a story for my next anthology.” I doubt it but like I said before, you never know.
Hey dream publisher and anyone reading this: if you’ve got ideas, requests, suggestions, death threats or anything else, shoot ‘em over this way. Kerry.Lipp@gmail.com.
Keep reading, keep writing, and keep it real,
About the Author (Author Profile)
Kerry G.S. Lipp is a wannabe writer working hard to drop the wanna be part. He teaches English at a community college by evening and works as a civilian on a military base by night, and usually sleeps during the day. He’s not a big fan of the sun. His stories are currently available in the anthologies Lucha Gore and Under The Knife and several more will follow in 2013. His parents have started reading his stories and it appears that he is now out of the will. Follow him on Twitter @kerrylipp. You can read his short ‘Smoke’ at SNM Magazine.